Deal with the Devil: The CIA, Jeff Bezos, and The Washington Post

Washington Post CIA

 Jeff Bezos, the world’s fifth richest man and founder of online retail giant, purchased the Washington Post in 2013 for a reported $250 million.  The same year, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) awarded Amazon a massive $600 million contract to build a private, online cloud for the agency. A large government contract with a private corporation is not uncommon in the United States, but this one is peculiar for its lack of transparency. The Washington Post has never publicly acknowledged its relationship with the CIA, nor has it disclosed any relationship when reporting on the agency.

When the deal was first struck, it caused backlash in the journalism community. In a statement released by the Institute for Public Accuracy, journalism scholar Robert W McChesney wrote:

If some official enemy of the United States had a comparable situation — say the owner of the dominant newspaper in Caracas was getting $600 million in secretive contracts from the Maduro government — the Post itself would lead the howling chorus impaling that newspaper and that government for making a mockery of a free press. It is time for the Post to take a dose of its own medicine.”

Criticism of the Washington Post-CIA deal spread beyond the journalism world. A petition penned by RootsAction accumulated 30,000 signatures of private citizens who demanded that the Washington Post disclose its owner’s dealings with the CIA.  Even a former reporter for the Post, John Hanrahan, spoke out against the paper’s actions:

It’s all so basic. Readers of the Washington Post, which reports frequently on the CIA, are entitled to know — and to be reminded on a regular basis in stories and editorials in the newspaper and online — that the Post‘s new owner Jeff Bezos stands to benefit substantially from Amazon’s $600 million contract with the CIA. Even with such disclosure, the public should not feel assured they are getting tough-minded reporting on the CIA. One thing is certain: Post reporters and editors are aware that Bezos, as majority owner of Amazon, has a financial stake in maintaining good relations with the CIA — and this sends a clear message to even the hardest-nosed journalist that making the CIA look bad might not be a good career move.”

The intelligence community has a long history of manipulating the news for its own gains. After leaving the Washington Post in 1977, famed journalist Carl Bernstein published an article in Rolling Stone titled “The CIA and the Media.”  He gives some insight into WashPo’s relationship with the intelligence community:

There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap. Journalists provided a full range of clandestine services—from simple intelligence gathering to serving as go‑betweens with spies in Communist countries. Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs…In many instances, CIA documents show, journalists were engaged to perform tasks for the CIA with the consent of the managements of America’s leading news organizations.”

Going further back to the 1950s and the time of the CIA’s first official chief, Allen Dulles, there is additional evidence of WashPo’s collusion with U.S. intelligence agencies. In his book, “Legacy of Ashes,” Tim Weiner claims:

Dulles kept in close touch with the men who ran the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the nation’s leading weekly magazines. He could pick up the phone and edit a breaking story, make sure an irritating foreign correspondent was yanked from the field, or hire the services of men such as Time’s Berlin bureau chief and Newsweek’s man in Tokyo…It was second nature for Dulles to plant stories in the press. American newsrooms were dominated by veterans of the government’s wartime propaganda branch, the Office of War Information.”

History Proves the Washington Post has VERY Close Ties with the CIA and Other Intel Agencies

Tim Weiner also mentions the case of Max Hugel who, in the 1980s, was ousted from his position of Chief of Clandestine Services by then CIA Director Bill Casey.  Weiner explains, “They dug up dirt on him, fed it to the Washington Post, and forced him out in less than two months.”  WashPo’s close relationship with the intel community didn’t begin in 2013; it has been ongoing for decades. The newspaper has been a major outlet for the dissemination of CIA propaganda used to destroy reputations, to force resignations, and to further political agendas.

The most famous, or infamous perhaps, series of reports to come from the Washington Post in recent months was the alleged hacking of the U.S. Presidential election. The reports targeted Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin with an assortment of allegations that have been widely denounced as inaccurate. Neither the publication nor any government agency has produced physical or digital evidence of the alleged hack. Even liberal media outlets like The Intercept and Rolling Stone criticized WashPo for their Russian-hacking narrative, yet Bezos’ newspaper shows no sign of relenting its narrative.

Jeff Bezos himself has come under scrutiny in the past for his own indiscretions.  It came out in 2016 that Bezos did not vet the acquisition of the Washington Post before purchasing it.  He told Fortune magazine, “This is the first company I’ve ever been involved with on a large scale that I didn’t build from scratch…I did no due diligence, and I did not negotiate with Don [Graham]. I just accepted the number he proposed.”

Historical record proves that the CIA has used the media many times to accomplish its own agenda.  It has directed the Washington Post to spread disinformation to the masses as a part of propaganda campaigns. Neither Jeff Bezos nor the Washington Post have disclosed their relationship with the intelligence community.  When the facts are considered, it is clear there is some element of collusion between Bezos, the CIA, and the Washington Post.

[Editorial credit: 360b /]